Here’s a road sign in my town.
The first time I drove by this sign, I was flummoxed. I knew that it had to do with yielding and pedestrians, but for some reason I just couldn’t take it all in at one time and get the complete message. The “HERE”, the arrow, and “TO” made me think: “Here to…where?”
I felt embarrassed that I was confused by a public road sign. Then I remembered something I had read in a splendid book recently: If you see an object for the public’s use, but don’t understand how to use it, it’s not your fault. It is the product designer’s (in this case, the sign designer’s) fault.
The Design of Everyday Things explores the dos and don’ts of good design, and describes principles that enhance and detract from object usability. It’s fascinating to me.
I’m not a professional designer, but I believe that there are specific flaws in this particular road sign:
- Mixture of multiple words and multiple symbols
- Indistinct relationships between components
- Indistinct sequence
- Redundant words/symbols
I think it would have been clearer — better — without the HERE and without the arrow. HERE? Really? Where else would you obey a road sign?
Wouldn’t this be better?
So simple, so strong.
OK. Glad I got that off my chest. I’ve seen this confusing Yield sign in other towns now, and it makes me wonder if other folks in other locales have also been confused, at least at their first viewing.
The moral of the story: The next time you are entering a building and push the door when you are supposed to pull it…it’s not your fault. Or when you are trying to get coffee out of a coffee machine and you push wrong buttons…it’s not your fault. Or you find yourself staring at a microwave, not knowing how to make it start…it’s not your fault…etc. etc. etc.
Any designers want to chime in on this?